Wilen Group: Big Data, Bigger Profits
Printers weren't crazy about the Wilens' innovative ideas about multi-color printing on lightweight stock and soon abandoned them as partners. Thus, in the mid-1990s, Wilen brought prepress work in-house, then bought a press and a building. Programming guides went away, but the Wilens have dedicated themselves to keeping two steps ahead of changing markets.
A relative mailing newcomer with but 10 years under its belt, Wilen Direct is using the big data movement and the benefits of investing in technologies such as those Kodak brought aboard to stay relevant, even within the nuanced shifts in the direct mail market.
"When we were getting started, marketers weren't getting their value out of the 'spray and pray' printing methodology," Darrin Wilen says of broadcast mailings. "Today, it's all about maximizing effectiveness through relevant messaging and mass personalization. All of the investments we've made during the years are geared toward doing a better job for our clients and giving them the proper return on marketing investment."
Research and development is another critical aspect of the Wilen value proposition, and here the company relies on its dedicated R&D arm, WILopEN Products, to provide specialty products that support marketing and business communications. Its cornerstone offering is the GiftE System—plastic gift cards geared toward mobile redemption. Other WILopEN offerings include mobile payments, point-of-sale (POS) payments and integrated payments accounting.
Kevin Wilen firmly believes one of the biggest reasons behind his company's success is the dedicated, talented personnel throughout the organization—the backbone of Wilen Direct. "Our people truly deserve the recognition for what we are today," he says. "We are very fortunate to have in place a management group that empowers people to excel and individually make a difference. Our executive vice president of sales, Paul Caravello, and vice president of manufacturing, Jeff Obermiller, have consistently communicated the importance of teamwork, attitude and, most importantly, the need to not become complacent. These values have helped keep our company focus on target with our clients' goals."